Guest post from Kirsten Dickerson.
I used to volunteer in the mornings at a homeless shelter, and then would end my days styling rock stars in music videos. I needed a creative outlet, but also desired a passion to help those in need. After many trips overseas for humanitarian and film work, my passion to help alleviate poverty and suffering among women and children grew immensely. I volunteered with Mother Teresa, spent time with orphans in China, cared for children with AIDS in Africa, and walked alongside homeless youths in America. I had given a little of my heart to each person I encountered and they had helped to radically shape and change my worldview for the better.
In addition to the knowledge garnered through my travels, I also learned valuable lessons in life from my friends in widely varied circumstances, who came from very opposing worlds. Some of my friends were famous and known around the globe, while others I knew slept under bridges. I shared the love of food and fashion with many of my friends, but felt turmoil in my heart when so many others that I knew went to bed hungry. I felt confused and frustrated trying to manage these friendships and shared passions that never seemed to connect. I knew, eventually, that would have to change.
I decided to take my friends on a journey around the world to meet and learn from one another. My hope was that these experiences would be mutually beneficial for everyone and that these trips would be so impactful that their lives would be changed forever. Over the course of fifteen years, we organized over thirty cross-cultural trips to countries throughout Africa, Asia and the Middle East. My friends from the West saw firsthand the reality of poverty and oppression that so many beautiful souls endure each day all over the world. Today, many of them continue to support the on-the-ground, indigenous led efforts to alleviate poverty.
One of these trips, in particular, stands out. Six years ago, I led a group of Hollywood friends to India and came home with a very specific vision in mind. I realized that I had the opportunity to combine my love of design with my passion to alleviate poverty. During my visit, I saw that many of my Indian friends who formerly lived in brothels and begged on the streets, had learned design skills through a non-profit organization. They knew prized skills such as jewelry making, sewing, and block printing. I could see that they’re lives were transformed immensely, personally, socially and economically, after acquiring these skills. I was filled with hope and excitement for these women and children. I cherished the idea of using micro-enterprise skills training to empower the poor in a way that brought dignity, sustainability, and beauty into the world.
My brain was racing and I began to ask myself, “What if I collaborated with these women to provide modern design and help develop a sustainable market for products? What if I could connect my designer friends in the United States with the hundreds of at-risk women that I knew from my travels around the world?” My dream grew more and more each day. That dream eventually culminated into what’s known today as Raven + Lily, a socially conscious lifestyle brand dedicated to empowering women through design.
Today, Raven + Lily is helping transform the lives of hundreds of women and children by designing and marketing stylish, eco-friendly products that reflect both the beauty and culture of the women who made them. We currently help employ at-risk women in Cambodia, India, Ethiopia, and America. All of these women have come from poverty and many are HIV+, but none of them live in despair anymore. They are now filled with hope. The inspiring stories of these women are transforming the way consumers use their purchasing power. Something beautiful is happening on both sides of the globe and my seemingly opposing worlds have collided in a most wonderful way.
Recently, I was absolutely thrilled to have the chance to launch a new partnership in Kenya with a group of tribal women known as the Maasai from the Esiteti community. These women have amazing hand beadwork skills to make their traditional tribal jewelry. These Maasai women have decided to be the first generation to eradicate FGM (female genital mutilation) from their community as well as send their girls to school. Opening a market in the West to sell an exclusive Raven + Lily collection of their designs will help make that possible. We launched our Kickstarter Campaign to fund this new partnership. Our goal is raise at least $30,000 by August 1st for marketing, design, and inventory of our new Maasai Jewelry Collection.
Collectively, the women artisans determined that 50% of the money grossed from jewelry sales will go directly to funding school for their children and the other 50% will go towards a fund that provides basic needs within the community.
Manei, a Maasai woman artisan, shares how her quality of life has changed, “Since we have started our beading business, it has really helped us educate our children. Everything has changed. Most of all, we are now feeling more respected in our community because we are earning an income.”
My heart is filled with excitement to see that these dreams of the Maasai women, especially for their children, come to fruition. They cannot do it without the support of a company like Raven + Lily, yet Raven+ Lily, cannot do it without the support of the greater community and our growing customer base.
Empowering these amazing Maasai women through design is a collaborative effort of everyone who joins our Kickstarter campaign and helps us see their dreams realized. To support our campaign, visit: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1364737491/fair-trade-maasai-jewelry-raven-lily
To shop our current collection and read about our artisans, visit: www.ravenandlily.com
To follow us on twitter: ravenandlily // facebook: ravenandlily // instagram: ravenandlily
The inaugural Social Enterprise and Crowdfunding Conference will be held on September 27, 2013 at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort near Salt Lake City, Utah.
The conference will bring together diverse communities of people working for social good, including social entrepreneurs, impact investors, philanthropists and nonprofit leaders. Crowdfunding will be one of the key topics at the conference, but a wide range of topics will be covered to help anyone have an impact.
Speakers will include Eric Weinberg of Impact Capital Strategies, Alan Hall of Grow America, Fraser Nelson of the Community Foundation of Utah, Richard Swart of the University of California Berkeley, and many others.
Alan Hall, Grow America
Topics will include a wide range of themes including:
Early-bird registration is open now through tomorrow only. Social entrepreneurs can register for just $99 and impact investors can register for just $149. Seats at these early-bird prices are limited and prices go up on August 1, 2013.
David Williams, author of the new book, The 7 Non-Negotiables of Winning, is the CEO of Fishbowl Inventory, a fast-growing software company in Utah where has successfully tested his radical new management paradigm.
Williams, and Fishbowl President Mary Scott, will join me today (July 29, 2013) at noon Eastern to discuss the book, its principles and their impact on Fishbowl.
The seven principles of Williams’s new book are: respect, belief, trust, loyalty, commitment, courage and gratitude.
In December of 2012, I visited Fishbowl to learn more about the company’s CAM Center, a social enterprise operating within Fishbowl, and was impressed by the culture of the entire business. You can find my report here.
From the 7NNs website:
Who is David K Williams and What Does he Stand For? David is the chief executive officer of Fishbowl, a company he helped transform from a struggling tech startup into the nation’s leading provider of inventory management software for SMBs. He is a frequent contributor to Deseret News, Harvard Business Review, and Forbes.
David was honored as one of vSpring Capital’s Top 100 Venture Capital Entrepreneurs in 2011 and 2012. He mentors business students at Utah Valley University and he is a member of the Woodbury School of Business Board. He also serves on the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Roundtable.
About This Book In The 7 Non-Negotiables of Winning, David presents the seven basic principles he used to build a successful business. The 7 Non-Negotiables create a safe work environment in which everyone can develop and contribute their own unique gifts.
The secret to success is to Fail Up. You don’t have to be defined by your failures or achievements. You can change your life and become a great leader by changing your mindset and getting rid of arbitrary limitations.
Guest post by Audrey Desiderato, Co-Founder of SunFunder.
I believe that energy poverty is my generation’s greatest development challenge, and also our greatest opportunity. Today, 1.3 billion people around the world lack access to electricity. In Tanzania where I currently live, only 15 percent of households are connected to the grid, leaving 7.1 million mostly rural households, off the grid.
What does it mean to live in energy poverty? No lights. You have a cellphone but must walk miles to charge it. Dirty fuel like kerosene grows more expensive by the day, but you have no choice—it’s your only option for lighting. Every year, the global poor spend $37 billion on poor-quality energy solutions to meet lighting and cooking needs.
A few months ago, I spent some time out in the field with Off-Grid:Electric, an off-grid solar company based in Tanzania. I attended a training session for their M-POWER agents and we asked them, “ Why do you want to become an M-POWER agent?” Their responses (translated from Swahili):
“I want to give people an alternative to save them from the harmful effects of kerosene.”
“Solar is a solution that fits all parts of the community – both rich and poor people.”
“I’ve seen in my village that children living in houses with M-POWER solar energy study more.”
Photo by SunnyMoney/SolarAid.
Energy access touches on all aspects of people’s lives and produces economic, health, education and environmental benefits. The United Nations has declared 2014 to 2024 as the Decade of Energy Access. I’m not sure if meetings, press releases and grand new programs provide us with a measure of progress. Instead, I like to measure progress through the number of families who have leapfrogged from firewood, candles, and kerosene straight to solar-powered LED lighting solutions.
Delivering modern energy solutions is not a one-size-fits-all, vaccine-like program. It requires a deep understanding of local market needs, appropriate technologies, robust distribution channels and innovative payment mechanisms. The challenge and opportunity of energy poverty then belongs to local problem solvers, i.e. entrepreneurs.
The SunFunder team comes from the U.S., France, India, Indonesia and Columbia. We are solar finance and international development practitioners, designers and programmers, and entrepreneurs. Our goal is to support off-grid solar companies in developing countries by helping overcome one of the largest obstacles they face—access to finance. Our solution is simple:
We meet, vet and select high-quality, impact partners that need working capital finance to reach more households.
We allow anyone in the world to make loans to these companies through our crowdlending platform and network of investors.
Companies get access to affordable debt finance, investors get repaid within 12 months, and more households have solar energy.
For example, take our latest project with SunnyMoney. This $25,000 loan provides inventory financing for SunnyMoney’s Solar Schools campaign, and will enable the team to sell and distribute solar lights to 4,500 students in rural Tanzania. According to their impact study, since beginning to use a solar light, children are now doing one more hour of study every night. This project is currently 75% funded on our website by 138 people. There’s a saying in Tanzania, “kidogo kidogo hujaza kibaba”, meaning “little by little, fills the pot”. If we all pitch in and invest as little as $10, we can help SunnyMoney reach their goal of impacting close to 400,000 homes in Tanzania this year.
Post by Brenda Bazan and Nancy Hayes, MoolaHoop Co-Founders
This week marks an important milestone in realizing our dreams to help other women entrepreneurs realize theirs.
Women-owned businesses represent almost 30% of all new startups in the US, yet women entrepreneurs receive just 5% of all venture capital and only 12% of all institutional debt. As a result, most women-owned businesses are smaller from the onset, absorb more personal debt, and grow more slowly.
MoolaHoop is a rewards-based crowdfunding platform built to help women leverage their social and professional networks to start, build or grow their businesses. Launched on July 24th , this is the first site of its kind designed especially for women entrepreneurs.
We worked together at the IBM Corporation and each left our senior management positions there a number of years ago to build careers in social services nonprofits, academia and small business. Now our signature offering represents our desire to generate positive social impact by helping to address the disparity in funding available to women entrepreneurs.
Our personal experience consulting with and supporting women entrepreneurs revealed no shortage of creativity, passion and hard work. Capitalizing on the popularity of rewards-based crowdfunding, MoolaHoop takes its first step to help women entrepreneurs reach parity for access to capital and unleash an important source of economic growth.
The Say Yes! campaign is presented at launch on MoolaHoop byBlueAvocado and Open Arms to attract funds to support the creation of a collection of ‘Made in the USA’ reusable products manufactured by women war survivors.
BlueAvocado is a women-founded Austin-based certified B Corp that has realized double-digit growth the past two years and is at an inflection point as consumers seek to green their lifestyle. Through its partnership with Open Arms—a women-owned manufacturing company that employs women refugee survivors—BlueAvocado is using MoolaHoop to fund a new line of reusable bags produced from reclaimed t-shirts and remnant fabrics and manufactured in Austin by Open Arms employees. As a result, BlueAvocado can offer a line of locally made and sourced products, and Open Arms can expand its manufacturing capacity and provide more living wage jobs for women refugees.
If 4,000 people purchase one reusable tote, Blue Avocado and Open Arms can keep more than 200,000 disposable bags out of landfills, upcycle 2,000 t-shirts, and give four women war survivors a full-time job, benefits and literacy classes for four months. If 40,000 people participate, the companies can upcycle two million disposables and Open Arms can employ 28 women refugees. This is the kind of deep, measurable impact that MoolaHoop can make possible.
Our partnership with Blue Avocado and Open Arms, along with other women entrepreneurs presenting their campaigns at launch, is a demonstration of the power of women to create a better world through business.
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In the future, we’ll be building out a robust ecosystem of business services, information and partnerships to fund and provide ongoing support to women entrepreneurs throughout the country, including access to equity funding, education, mentoring and skills. That’s the ‘Hoop. Jump in today! www.moola-hoop.com.
This morning Richard Bliss, the host of the podcast “Funding the Dream on Kickstarter” posted our interview recorded late last night.
Richard is a friend who is a crowdfunding expert, focused on Kickstarter. Recently, I interviewed him for Forbes.
Richard gave me the opportunity to talk about my new book, Crowdfunding for Social Good, Financing Your Mark on the World, as well as my crowdfunding campaign to raise money to publish and promote it.
This gave me an opportunity to talk about Martha Griffin, whose son was born with a birthmark on his face. She wrote a book about Sam and how his birthmark made him special. She crowdfunded $35,000 to publish the book on Kickstarter.
One of my favorite stories from my new book, Crowdfunding for Social Good is about 9-year-old Vivienne Harr who decided that she would end child slavery in her lifetime.
Vivienne originally started raising money with a lemonade stand, which she operated every day for a year! From the stand, she was able to raise over $100,000 to donate to organizations that fight trafficking and slavery.
Then she turned to crowdfunding where she raised nearly half-a-million dollars using Fundly.com.
Some of that money was used to launch a her retail brand of lemonade, Make A Stand Lemonade, with profits going to the fight against child slavery.
The video posted above is Vivienne seeing her lemonade on retail shelves for the first time.
This is a guest post from Marisa Herbert.
Wall Street Rocks Battle of the Bands officially kicked off its 2013 season on July 17th, with a sold out show at The Cutting Room in New York City. Over 600 supporters came to cheer on competing bands that includedMneumonics, Unrestricted Entity, Riffhanger and AlgoRythmics. The evening, which benefited Wounded Warrior Project, ReserveAid andOperation Finally Home, was emceed by Aron Dutta, Global Head of Financial Markets Strategy at Cisco, and sponsored by Capco, Davidsohn,Thomson Reuters, Broadridge, Alltech, Nasdaq, TTI and Credit Suisse.
Riffhanger: Photo by Vincent Pelly
In the last two years, Wall Street Rocks has been able to raise over $350,000 for veteran’s charities and is looking to raise the bar. In attendance and showing her support for Wall Street Rocks was Madame Mayhem who joinedfounding members Leslie Kirby, James Macedonio, and George Chrisafis at the fundraiser. These are not your typical fundraising events. At Wall Street Rocks, the events that you can expect to see and hear will be filled with entertainment, from well-known artists and performers to talented musicians and bands who work hard for their firms during the day and then break loose at night, performing and playing in and around the tri-state area.
This year’s 2013 two semi-finals and end of year finale will bring together key note speakers from our military, VIP C-level folks from some of the biggest investment banks, retail banks and hedge funds on Wall Street, along with speakers from the charities that we support. Wall Street Rocks is a collaboration of employees who are passionate about giving support to heroic Americans who serve our nation, including military veterans and first responders. The organization is excited to be supporting Operation Finally Home for the first time, a non-profit that was founded in 2005 that provides custom-made mortgage free homes to wounded and disabled veterans and widows of the fallen, in an effort to get their lives back on track and become productive members of their communities. Wall Street Rocks ambassadors have visited homes built by Operation Finally Home to get a first hand look at the great work being done by the organization, whose spokesperson is actor J.R. Martinez. Wall Street Rocks continues their support of Wounded Warriors Project and Reserve Aid. By coming to the shows, purchasing event tickets, merchandise, and original music releases you are enabling the most comprehensive veterans’ programs to rehabilitate, educate, re-home, offer career training and placement to veterans and reach out to the families and individuals who have lost loved ones.
Round 2 of Wall Street Rocks Battle of the Bands will taking place on September 18th at The Cutting Room in New York City, followed by the finale at Roseland Ballroom in NYC on Thursday, December 5th with a special performance that is to be announced. For more information about Wall Street Rocks, please visit www.wallstreetrocks.org
This is a guest post from Samuel Webb.
I have always had a zeal for service. The feeling I get when helping someone else is inexpressible. I have had many opportunities to serve others throughout my life. I spent two years on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or “Mormon” church serving the people of Canada. I spent time in South America with my sister rebuilding a school, building gardens so the special needs children could grow fresh produce to raise money, and passing out school supplies and hygiene kits we took with us.
My other passion is fashion, so when I started nooseneckwear.com I knew I wanted to incorporate some sort of service into my business. At nooseneckwear.com we sell a variety of different neckties. Knowing young men who serve missions wear ties every day, and I sell ties, naturally this was the place to start paying it forward.
An LDS mission is a voluntary service in which the individual missionary pays their own way. They can be called to any part of the world, learning new languages and adapting to new cultures. Young men, age 18 and older, spend 2 years serving and young women, 19 years and older, spend 18 months serving God and the people of the area to which they are called.
Having served and paid for a mission I knew the financial impact it had on me and I realized I wanted to help those who have the same desire I did to serve. Many of these people come from circumstances where paying for something like this isn’t possible. The General Missionary Fund for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints helps subsidize the cost. Each year the general missionary fund helps more than 22,000 individuals from 120 countries pay for a portion of their mission expenses. As part of our desire to help out, we decided that we would donate a portion of every sale to this fund. By so doing these young men and women get the opportunity to serve, and help others all around the world. You can learn more about this fund at www.ldsphilanthropies.org/missionary You can also get a great looking tie and know that a portion of the sale will go to this great cause at www.nooseneckwear.com
Guest post from R. Stover, Co-Founder, Community Funded.
I never thought fundraising would excite me. Yet, what was generally a mundane or unpleasant activity has become an exciting cultural shift. Technology is empowering everyday people and organizations to pursue their passions, missions and visions in remarkable ways. As a result, there is a new frontier of possibilities unfolding for each and every one of us.
“Crowdfunding” has risen with all the promise of a new land, but for every headline-making success, there are plenty of disappointments. The problem has to do with the nature of crowds, and for the vast majority of people, “crowdfunding” is the wrong approach.
Notably, a “crowd” is exactly that. It’s a sprawling mass of people. Think about crowds you’ve been a part of in the real world, at places like sports events, parades or other large gatherings of people. There might be a central focus, like a sports team out on the field, but the crowd itself is noisy, disconnected and… well, crowded. It’s difficult, if not impossible to be heard, much less funded.
Despite this fact, many crowd funding projects launch assuming they are out on the field with all eyes on them, when in fact they are in the crowd or not at the game at all. This is the Crowd Fallacy, and it is public enemy #1 for those seeking to raise money through these new online funding platforms.
So we leave the crowd behind and find ourselves back in the real world, surrounded by the people we see on a daily basis, the friends and family that we talk to by phone or online, and the people that we work with…even the people who serve our morning coffee who we know by name. This is where we belong. It’s not a crowd. It’s a community.
Tapping into this series of relationships is at the heart of a successful “community funded” project, regardless of the funding platform or the project’s size. When a community is properly engaged, mountains can be moved as well as the hearts and minds of everyone involved. It is this aspect of the “new face of fundraising” that has so excited me, as it has many others.
We are entering an age where anyone can be empowered to pursue his or her passions, missions and ideas. As funding platforms continue to evolve through our growing understanding of their use and effectiveness, so too must we adapt our thinking to embrace a reality that is more profound than we first imagined.
Each one of us has the strength of our communities behind us. When we bring all of our communities together, anything is possible.
About Community Funded
Community Funded is an online fundraising platform that empowers individuals and organizations to create and share fundraising campaigns with an engaged community. For more information, visit www.communityfunded.com or be a part of the conversation at #communityfunded.